Chronic liver disease refers to the progressive deterioration of liver function over the course of months. If left untreated, the eventual outcome is cirrhosis, which refers to permanent scarring of the tissue. One drink may have protective effects against the disease, slashing the risk of death by 49 percent.
The NHS explains: “Cirrhosis is sometimes called an end-stage liver disease because it happens after other stages of damage from the condition that affects the liver, such as hepatitis.”
As the function of the liver becomes increasingly impaired, life expectancy is shortened.
Researchers believe that coffee, however, could reduce the risk of death from chronic liver disease by 49 percent.
To establish this association, a team at the University of Southampton compared data from 384,818 coffee drinkers with data belonging to 109,767 people who don’t drink coffee.
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All participants were monitored for chronic liver disease during a follow-up period of 10.7 years.
Oliver Kennedy, lead author on the study, remarked: “Overall, coffee seems to be beneficial for many health outcomes.
“This is not just for chronic liver disease but also for other diseases, such as chronic kidney disease and some cancers.
“Nobody knows exactly which compounds are responsible for the potential protective effect against chronic liver disease.
“However, our finding that all types of coffee are protective indicated that a combination of compounds may be at work.”
During their research, the team uncovered that individuals who drink an average of three to four cups of decaffeinated, instant or ground coffee per day, had a 21 percent lower risk of developing the chronic liver disease compared to controls.
Coffee drinkers also had a 49 percent lower risk of dying from chronic liver disease.
When assessing the risk of other liver diseases, researchers found coffee consumption was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Kennedy added: “Coffee is widely accessible, and the benefits we see from our study may mean it could offer a potential preventative treatment for chronic liver disease.
“This would be especially valuable in countries with lower income and worse access to healthcare and where the burden of chronic liver disease is highest.”
There are a host of lifestyle factors that can protect the liver against disease, including maintaining a healthy body mass index.
Following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasises nuts, legumes, seeds and olive oil, may also protect the liver.